Published in Freeborn County standard (Albert Lea, Minn.) May 24, 1883. Image: #1
ALBERT LEA, MINN., MAY 24, 1883.
John Heath died in this city May 18th, 1883, at 1 o'clock a. m., in the ninetieth year of his age.
Mr. Heath was born in Chester, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, on the 29th day of April, 1794. He was married to Miss Hannah Wasson, and emigrated to Pike, Allegany county, New York, about the year 1808. After residing in Pike two or three years, he pushed on further into the wilderness, and located on French Creek, Chautauqua County, New York, and commenced opening a farm.
He soon sold his farm on French Creek and bought what in those days was called a large farm of 300 or 400 acres in Erie county, Pennsylvania, in what was afterwards called Wagon Township, a few miles from where the city of Corry is now located. While living on that farm he went on horseback through the woods about 25 miles to Ashville, Chautauqua County, New York, and was there made a Mason the principles of which order he cherished to the time of his death.
As his children began to become of school age, he found the country had not become settled sufficient to organize schools in his neighborhood, and realizing his obligations to educate his children, he sold his farm and settled in the village of Clymer, Chautauqua county, New York, and entered into the mercantile business, running one store at Clymer and another at Panama, in the same county, and afterwards a store at North East, in the same county.
Finally he closed up his mercantile business and settled on a farm hi Erie County,
Pennsylvania, some two or three miles from Clymer, adjoining the farm occupied by the father of Horace Greeley and his family. When Horace came on from Vermont to work on his father's farm, Mr. Heath became acquainted with the boy, and seeing his capabilities advised him to stick to his trade, and procured for him a position in Street's printing office at Erie, Pennsylvania, from which Horace finally drifted to New York city.
The families were always intimate, and especially were Mr. Heath and Horace intimate friends until Horace died. They both looked forward to the annual visits of Horace to his father's family, and although they differed in politics, and sometimes had warm discussions on that subject, they both enjoyed a good visit together, both being broad and liberal in their religious views.
In 1855, hearing his daughter, Mrs. E. C. Stacy intended to emigrate to Minnesota, he sold his farm, and in 1856 settled with her at the head of Geneva Lake in this county, where he resided until two years since, when he lie removed to Albert Lea to be nearer Ins daughter.
Some four or five years ago he received a paralytic stroke which left him a cripple, so that he was obliged to use crutches, and continued to grow more decrepit until the fore part of last winter since which time he has been unable to stand, and been obliged to be helped from his bed to his Chair and back again for some four or five months.
His first wife died at Geneva in August, 1858. He married for his second wife Mrs. Aurelia Jewett, in September, 1859, who stood faithfully by him in his last years of debility, and in whom he trusted with the confidence of a child.
Mr. Heath was known as a positive, strong minded man, and of sound judgment; was always kind and liberal to the poor, and was loved and respected by his neighbors and acquaintances, and in the settlements of the new county try of Western New York and Pennsylvania his advice to the poor emigrants who settled around him was listened to and heeded, and in disputes his word was law.
He was of a social and cheerful disposition and was as good company for the young folks as for the old, and for many years past they have all delighted in calling him by the familiar name of "Uncle John." In the most trying times of late years he was always cheerful and had a pleasant word for all, and was never afraid to die. In confidence, to his family, for some years last past, he has remarked that it was a wonder that he did not pass on, still he was willing to abide his time.
He was a bright and active Mason, lived through the Morgan excitement and lived to see the institution recover from that shock and progress far beyond his most sanguine anticipations.
He requested to be buried with Masonic ceremonies; he loved and admired their funeral services, and it seemed to him that service was sufficient for a Mason. He became a member of Western Star Lodge No. 26 at Albert Lea, in the early days of its existence and the brothers of that lodge have faithfully and cheerfully discharged their duties to him in his last sickness, which fact was recognized by him and made him happy. Of course he desired to be buried on his own lot in the Geneva cemetery by the side of his first wife and grandchildren.
After his death the Masons took charge of the body, and complied with his request so far as the weather and traveling would permit, by depositing his body in the grave and performing the beautiful rites of the order, where he now lies with the lamb-skins and evergreens, emblems of the immortality in which he had an abiding faith.